Blue Like Jazz - Love it or hate it?

A few years ago a book came out called, Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality. I both loved and hated it. Loved it for its honesty and beautiful storytelling. Hated it because as the story developed, it caused a glaring light to shine on the darkest parts of my soul. (Okay, that was probably a little bit of an intense over-share for me, but that's not important right now.)

If you mention this book in Christian circles, there is no neutral ground. The book is either loved or hated. I think, depending on the reaction, it probably tells more about the reader than about the content of the book.

But those that love it, love it with a passion. They recommend it. Often. They quote the author Donald Miller and follow his blog religiously. (No pun intended.)

We Christians often get a bad rap, and sometimes (but not always), I think we deserve it. I, personally have some tensions with the church, at least as it exists today. But not with God. This is where the rubber meets the road. The difference between following "the rules" in the Bible and having "a relationship" with the God of the Bible are light years apart.

Enter Blue Like Jazz, the Movie.

Blue like jazz

It's a testament to just how much fans love this story that the film was even made. From the IMDB:

The movie was made possible by the efforts of fans the refused to see the project die. A campaign on KickStarter was started after a September 16th blog post by Donald Miller that the project was dead due to the lack of backers. By the end of the funding period on October 25th, Save Blue Like Jazz had raised $345,992 (of the $125,000 goal or 276%) from 4495 backers. The earns the project a Hall of Fame ranking on KickStarter as the highest funded project ever.

When I heard that the movie had finally been made and was invited to a local screening, I was thrilled. Trying to explain to Lucy what it was about was more of a challenge.

"I think you'll love it," I told her, "Unless you hate it."

She agreed to attend the preview with me and some friends (who also love Donald Miller).

We were delighted to meet Donald, himself before the show.

Donald Miller

When the movie was over, Lucy made a beeline for the two young actors, Marshall Allman, who plays the young Donald Miller in the film:

Marshall Allman & Lucy

And Justin Welborn, who plays The Pope (favorite character, hands down):

Justin Welborn & Lucy

After the powerful, hand-me-a-tissue ending, she insisted we get over to the bookstore and pick up a copy of Blue Like Jazz, because she had never read it and was intensely curious after seeing the film. I'm guessing she now falls into the "love it" category.

A very wise pastor once told me, "Sometimes God offends the mind to reveal the heart." And this is the power of the story in Blue Like Jazz. I would absolutely not categorize it as a Christian film, but more about a film that shines an intensely bright light to reveal what's in our hearts.

It also has a well earned PG-13 rating. If you have ever read the Bible itself, you'll know that it's not squeaky clean by any means. The rating was quite shocking and satisfying.

Blue Like Jazz opens in select theaters tomorrow, April 13th. Go see it.

You'll love it.

Or hate it.